North Central College - Naperville, IL

Pre-Health Sciences

While many schools offer health science certifications or associate’s degrees, North Central students pursuing careers in health-related fields earn a widely respected, four-year degree from a nationally ranked liberal arts institution. Here you’ll lay the groundwork for a successful medical career by immersing yourself in both the sciences and the liberal arts in (or as part of) one of our 55-plus degree options. When you graduate, you’ll join the ranks of alumni who have been accepted at highly-respected medical, dental, veterinary, optometry and other programs.


Gerald Gems, professor of health and physical education
Gerald Gems, North Central College professor of health and physical education, was a featured sports historian in an interview on NPR’s “All Things Considered.”
North Central gains momentum in growth, reputation, value.
Madison Cromwell ’17, Elaina Bartoli ’17
North Central College’s new neuroscience discipline will be represented with two projects at the 2016 National Conference on Undergraduate Research



  • Research intern, Edward Hospital, Naperville
  • Research intern, Louisiana State University, Shreveport, LA
  • Research intern, Loyola University Medical School, Maywood, IL

Graduate and Professional Schools

Recent health science students have been accepted at:

  • Midwestern (Doctor of Osteopathy)
  • Loyola University of Chicago (Medical School)
  • North Western University (Medical School)
  • University of Illinois at Chicago (Dental School)
  • University of Iowa (Dental School)
  • University of Illinois (Veterinary)
  • Purdue University (Pharmacy)
  • Rush University (Nursing)
  • University of Colorado-Denver School of Medicine (Pharmacy)


Recent health science students include:

  • Registered nurse in oncology, Loyola University Medical
  • Physical therapist, Lockport, IL
  • Optometrist, Yorkville, IL
  • Physician in OB/GYN, Wisconsin
Occupational Therapy major

Emily dreams of working in a pediatric clinic. To reach this dream, she needs to be accepted into a master’s program in occupational therapy, which requires extensive experience and guidance. She found everything she wanted at North Central.

“I was impressed by all the opportunities available that prepared me for graduate school,” she says. “The professors, advisors and faculty were genuinely invested in my well-being.”

To gain vital experience in the field, Emily interned at Treehouse Pediatric Therapy, a clinic that provides physical, occupational, speech and nutrition therapy to children. Her time at the clinic reinforced her dream and opened new doors for her future.

“It reaffirmed my...


Sara spent a year at another college before making the switch to North Central. It’s a decision she’ll never regret.

“When I came here, it was a completely different experience and it’s made me a better person. I was challenged more than I’d ever been before, but my professors helped me through it,” she says. “North Central is an amazing school to attend—especially if you’re interested in going into science.”

Sara plans to enroll in the Rush University College of Nursing’s Generalist Entry Master’s (GEM) program to pursue a career...

Physician Assistant major

Prescribing medicine, diagnosing illness and closely working with surgeons and physicians—every decision made by a physician assistant is critical for a patient’s health. In a field where mistakes are unacceptable, Kayla says her hands-on experience at North Central is crucial.

“It’s very important to have experience with patient care,” she says.

Kayla shadowed a physician and worked with residents at Sunrise Senior Living, a residential facility near campus. She also took advantage of on-campus opportunities, attending seminars with health industry professionals through North Central’s student-run Pre-Health Organization (PHO).

“PHO is a great way to learn more about the health industry...


From the moment she put on her first pair of glasses, Morgan wanted to be an optometrist. She had a similar feeling the first time she visited the campus of North Central College.

“I knew this was the school I would graduate from,” Morgan says. “The close-knit community made me feel at home, which was nice because I come from a smaller town.”

Morgan, a biology major and psychology minor, is very active both on and off campus. During her junior year, she recruited three classmates to accompany her on a medical mission trip to Honduras. She learned about the opportunity through her hometown optometrist, who hired Morgan as...


Currently a medical student at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine, Allison discovered her passion for medicine while studying biology and chemistry at North Central. Here she conducted academic research with faculty members and presented her work at national conferences. She also volunteered for community service projects, served as president of an honors  society chapter and mentored fellow students as a lab assistant and preceptor.

“You can walk into North Central professors’ offices and chat with them about their weekend or ask about your homework,” she says. “The faculty are very friendly. In fact, when I came for my Presidential Scholarship interview as a freshman, Dr. (...


Jane found her passion while working as a pharmacy technician during her sophomore year.

“It allowed me to understand the role of a pharmacist. I enjoy helping the public and this is the professional health career I could really see myself doing.”

Jane began preparing for her career by working as a lab assistant and serving as president of the Pre-Health Organization and vice president of the biology honor society Beta Beta Beta. She gained additional experience by volunteering at a local hospital over the summer.

Jane is excited to step into the pharmaceutical field with a strong résumé. She plans to pursue a doctor of pharmacy degree and eventually become a clinical pharmacy specialist,...

Pre-Physical Therapy

Pre-physical therapy is a perfect fit for Keeler. It combines his interests in exercise, the human body, sports and people.

“The human body can do amazing things. My classes at North Central delve deeper into the wonders of the human body, which is so complex and can do so much we don't even realize.”

North Central is a perfect fit, too. “It wasn’t too close, but not too far from home. It offers small classes and accessible professors. And last, but definitely not least, North Central is a place I can continue playing the sport I’ve been part of for so long.”

Keeler has pitched for the Cardinals baseball team since his freshman year. He’s also a resident assistant, a leader at The Union—a...


Alex had plans to become a lawyer to help underserved communities in developing countries. But a study abroad trip to Ecuador, where she observed the state of healthcare, changed her plans.

“I realized I wanted a career that gave me direct contact meeting the needs of the underserved. I switched to nursing to focus on patient care and form personal connections.”

When Alex returned to campus, she connected with the College’s pre-professional health program coordinator and learned about North Central’s affiliation with Rush University’s Generalist Entry Master’s program in nursing.

“I had to start from scratch midway through college to begin my required science classes. The professors were...


Chris Allen has set his sights on a career in pharmacy and knows that North Central College is providing him with a great learning environment and opportunities to prepare for his future.

“It’s a small school,” Chris says. “I figured I would do best here because I would be able to interact with professors.”

During his junior year Chris gained hands-on experience at Naperville’s Martin Avenue Pharmacy, one of the few remaining compounding pharmacies, where pharmacists make custom medications for patrons on-site.

During the summer between his sophomore and junior years, Chris volunteered to assist chemistry professor Jeff Bjorklund with research that was presented at the College’s Rall...

Graduate Student of Veterinary Medicine

When Britni Miller was considering veterinary schools, she noticed they gave “great consideration” to her application showing her as a North Central College graduate. “They know that we have a high quality education and have invested the time, effort and work that is required to succeed in medical school,” she says.

Britni says the opportunity to conduct research at North Central “gave me great experience for applying to veterinary school, and I have since used the knowledge and skills I gained from my research experience in my veterinary internships.”

Her decision to major in biology prepared her for entry into the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine, she says.

Pre-Health Sciences

“I knew North Central was research-heavy and had connections to other places and opportunities but didn’t know much more,” says Brittany, a transfer student.

She was quick to get involved, however, in research and student organizations. During summers and D-Term, Brittany conducted research with a biology professor and presented her work at a national conference. She also served as an officer in the student-run Pre-Health Organization and as historian for the biology honor society Beta Beta Beta. She mentored other biology students and...

Pre-Occupational Therapy

John Ladeur knew he wanted to pursue a career in healthcare but wasn’t sure exactly what he wanted to do. After working as a certified nursing assistant and a phlebotomy lab assistant, John eventually found his fit in occupational therapy.

John, who transferred from a community college, chose to earn his bachelor’s degree at North Central rather than a bigger school. “I prefer small classes and seeing professors on a regular basis during office hours,” John says. “I love the campus. North Central also has a good reputation in the sciences, and everyone I’ve met along the way has been very personable.”

John also appreciates opportunities for volunteering at Marianjoy Rehabilitation Hospital in...

Physician Assistant

Alicia Carlson works as a physician assistant for Dr. Jesse Butler’s practice, Spine Consultants LLC, based in Park Ridge, IL. She earned her bachelor’s degree in athletic training at North Central, then graduated from Midwestern University with a master’s degree in physician assistant studies.

Alicia says. “A liberal arts degree tends to give a more well-rounded educational experience. I truly believe that schools seriously look at those intricate details and differences.”

As a physician assistant, Alicia first-assists Dr. Butler in surgery, schedules all surgeries and procedures, coordinates post-operative care of the patients...


Courtney enjoys North Central’s liberal arts curriculum so much, she’s looking for graduate schools that offer the same sort of experience.

“I enjoy integrating multiple fields,” she says. “I recently found out there are pharmacy schools that offer both a Pharm.D. and an M.B.A. Focusing not just on the science side of pharmacy, but on the business side as well, really excites me.”

At North Central, Courtney is majoring in biochemistry to prepare for pharmacy school.

“Science students are not only prepared in the classroom, they also have research and job opportunities within their fields of study,” she says. “The program isn’t easy, but nothing worthwhile...

Pre-Veterinary Medicine

Getting into veterinary school is no small feat. Lauren is grateful she’s had so many opportunities to bolster her credentials at North Central College.

The biology major has performed research with faculty members, been an active member of the student-run Pre-Health Organization and studied a wide range of sciences to prepare for the next stage of her academic journey.

Her professors have been there to assist her every step of the way.

“They really make you feel comfortable about approaching them with questions, and they’re really passionate about the subject matter of their courses—it shows in...


While shadowing a podiatrist, Cory fell in love with treating feet.

“Podiatry offered everything I was looking for: clinic and surgery time, adequate compensation and overall life happiness,” he says.

Cory’s eager to work in the competitive podiatry industry. He’s shadowed professionals in the medical field and participated in North Central’s Pre-Health Organization (PHO), a club that offers Q & A sessions with alumni, seminars with health industry professionals and preparation for graduate school. While some students may get anxious at the thought of taking exams for graduate school, Cory’s prepared with numerous practice tests provided by PHO.

Cory hopes to become a podiatrist who...

Physical Therapist

Erin McElheny earned her bachelor’s degree at North Central College and completed her doctor of physical therapy (D.P.T.) degree at Midwestern University in Downers Grove, IL. She’s a physical therapist at TheraCORE in Lockport.

As an undergraduate at North Central, Erin learned the importance of good communication skills.

“Having those skills gave me an edge when it came to the interview process for physical therapy school,” Erin says. “Establishing rapport with people is a skill that someone working in the healthcare industry should master.”

During her senior year at North Central, Erin worked in physical therapy clinics and completed...


As a child, Orusa loved going to the orthodontist for her braces. With North Central’s pre-dentistry program, she’ll be the one making smiles.

“It’s a career that requires compassion and great interpersonal skills,” she says.

Orusa gathered vital knowledge through a summer internship at Access Dental Center in Naperville, where she shadowed professionals and gained hands-on experience. She enjoys the challenge of dentistry.

“I gained immense knowledge in just three months,” she says. “With a career like dentistry, I’ll be learning something new every day.”

One lesson Orusa learned through her internship is that networking is critical to success. So, she became secretary of the...

Pre-Physical Therapy

Jacob knew if he pursued physical therapy, he could make a real difference in someone’s life.

“Physical therapy will give me the opportunity to try to get America moving again.”

Because this goal is attainable with commitment and the right resources, Jacob decided North Central would be the perfect place for him to pursue his degree. Among other involvement, he participated in the College’s Pre-Health Organization—a student group for pre-health majors—and sought the help of North Central’s own pre-professional health coordinator.

“Given the sheer size of the Naperville community, internships, jobs and shadowing hours are abundant and North Central faculty help facilitate those connections...


Dr. Rob Hoffert graduated from North Central College with a degree in biology. He went on to earn a doctorate of optometry from the Pennsylvania College of Optometry. He’s an optometrist with the Brenart Eye Clinic in Yorkville, where he worked part time as a lab technician throughout college.

“North Central was great because of its small class sizes,” Rob says. “I connected with many of the professors.” Two professors wrote him recommendation letters for graduate schools.

“Graduate schools really like applicants with liberal arts degrees,” he says. “They want a well-rounded...


Brandon chose North Central because he felt a small-school atmosphere would set him up for the greatest amount of post-college success.

“It was clear there were endless opportunities here,” he says.

As an undergraduate student, Brandon has conducted and presented independent research, kept up with the latest trends in dentistry as a member of the student-run Pre-Health Organization and worked with professors as a lab assistant. He calls the relationship between North Central students and faculty the College’s “biggest asset.”

“We harbor a family-like atmosphere,” he says. “The professors are here to help you, and allowing them to get to know you as a person will really help in the long run...


For Matthew, a degree in biology was excellent preparation for dental school. In fact, it opened the way to acceptance at the University of Iowa College of Dentistry.

“The biology and chemistry courses at North Central were rigorous. They gave me a great science foundation and high confidence that I’ll excel in a graduate program. And the professors are great mentors. They have an open door policy with students. I had opportunities to develop strong relationships with them.”

Matthew chose North Central for its location and opportunity to pursue two personal interests: biology and baseball. He was the Cardinals’ starting right-fielder for three years, was named to the NCAA Division III All-Central...

Pre-Physician Assistant

Mackenzie has a hard time relating to her friends from other schools when they mention hard-to-reach professors. That’s never been a problem for her at North Central College.

“My friends don’t know any of their professors and I often think about how much that must hinder their learning,” Mackenzie says. “I love knowing that my professors are available when I need extra help and that I’m not just a face. I’m a person they recognize and know by name.”

Mackenzie, a biology major, didn’t know exactly which field she wanted to go into when she arrived on campus. Since deciding to become a physician assistant, she says North Central’s faculty has “helped immensely with making sure I see my dreams...

Pre-Occupational Therapy

Liz transferred to North Central College for many reasons. The trimester system would make transitioning to graduate school easier and “the advising program is superior to many other schools. Receiving advice and guidance is crucial for students. Advisors here work hard to help you find internships and prepare for grad school.”

Liz worked closely with the College’s pre-professional health program coordinator and plans to attend graduate school for occupational therapy—an area that’s interested her since high school.

“I started researching the field when I visited older family friends in rehabilitation centers and saw the work they’d been doing with occupational therapists. I was intrigued and...


Early on, Sadie set her sights on a career in pharmacy and knew North Central College could help her reach her goal.

“I was immediately drawn to North Central when I got to know the biology and chemistry professors during my visit.”

Sadie secured a student-worker position in the chemistry lab and served as a lab assistant for genetics and organic chemistry classes. She majored in biochemistry and says a microbiology class taught by a biology professor directly related to her career plans in pharmacy. “Taking an in-depth look at how microbiologists are battling bacterial and viral infections through antibiotics and innovative antiviral drugs was fascinating.”

Sadie admits the science program...

Veterinary Medicine major

Joel plans to become a veterinary researcher and wanted his college experience to help him reach his goal.

“My high school was known for its large student population,” he says. “For college, I wanted to get a more personal experience with my professors and classmates. North Central was the perfect fit.”

Joel says he’s received this individual attention at North Central with professors helping him find connections between animal physiology, cell biology, biochemistry and other science courses. He participated in Beta Beta Beta biological honors society, where he bonded with others who shared his interest in biology.

“The camaraderie that exists among the staff and students at North Central...


Alina, a biochemistry major, always knew she wanted to be a doctor. It didn’t take long to discover the many ways North Central College could help her achieve that goal.

“I love North Central because of the opportunities it provides,” Alina says. “Through the College Scholars program I studied abroad at the University of Glasgow in Scotland and was able to take a cadaver anatomy course designed for American students interested in healthcare. I became involved in the biology honors society TriBeta, the Senior Class Gift Committee, tutoring at EDGE, the orientation staff and...

Pre-Occupational Therapy

Small class sizes have always appealed to Cendy. It’s the reason she transferred to North Central College, where she is preparing for a career in occupational therapy.

“I communicate a lot with my professors, who are willing to help and listen. I’m always comfortable approaching them with questions when I’m stuck on something, because they’re all really friendly,” she says.

Cendy wanted to pursue a career that would allow her to help others. She decided on occupational therapy after watching a therapist work with her mother following a serious operation.

“It was really fun watching the therapist help her regain her momentum,” she says.

To make her dream a reality, Cendy is taking...


As a student, Rachel Craghead had no trouble balancing academics with campus involvement, volunteerism and other pursuits. In addition to excelling in North Central College’s rigorous psychology curriculum, Rachel held leadership positions with the College’s orientation staff, Uncommon Life Movement and Blue Key Honor Society.

Rachel paired her passion for service with the opportunity to gain experience in the medical field during D-Term her senior year.

“I set up a trip to Haiti through Mission of Hope,” Rachel says. “I knew I wanted to work in the medical field, and this trip allowed me to gain valuable experiences.” While in Haiti, she shadowed medical professionals, including nurses, doctors...


Brianna knew she wanted to pursue a career in optometry after working at an optometrist’s office in high school. She’s been tracking toward that goal with pre-optometry and health science opportunities at North Central.

Through the student-run Pre-Health Organization, Brianna shadowed an optometrist and North Central alumnus to observe firsthand the work of optometrists. She’s also worked with the College’s pre-professional health advisor to design her studies and prepare for optometry school.

“My advisor has been helpful every step of the way, telling me things I need to do and how to get there.”

The courses are tough, says Brianna, but they help prepare her for optometry school. “The...

Pre-Physical Therapy

Nhung’s decision to pursue a career in physical therapy was an easy one.

“I like making little differences that bring smiles,” says Nhung. “Having someone say ‘thank you’ to me is more than a blessing.”

At North Central College, she’s not alone in that regard. “Everyone here is willing to help without any hesitation,” says Nhung, who grew up in Vietnam. “I transferred from a community college where I was not able to have one-on-one time with my professors. Here, however, the professors are absolutely dedicated to helping with any questions I have—even if they’re not related to class.”

Nhung has taken full advantage of the opportunities North Central offers for students pursuing a career in...


A biology major, Rebecca devoted part of her senior year to prepare for medical school; she was accepted to four schools and chose the Medical College of Wisconsin.

A standout student, Rebecca was a College Scholar, was named the Outstanding Major in Biology and studied abroad in England. She also received a scholarship for students interested in cancer research and conducted research in allergies and immunology at Northwestern University. 

Rebecca credits her professors for preparing her for a medical career. “The science professors are stellar. They teach us to be independent thinkers, resourceful learners and to analyze everything critically.”

She recalls spending hours in the...

Nursing major

After a service trip to Haiti with the North Central College student group Break Away, Mackenzie decided to focus her career on helping others.

“I began to think about how nursing could provide an avenue to continue serving others throughout my lifetime,” she says.

Mackenzie met with the pre-professional health advisor on campus and decided to pursue the generalist entry master’s (GEM) program at Rush University after graduation. To prepare for the program, she interned at a pediatric practice in Lisle. She shadowed a nurse with more than 20 years of experience.

After completing the GEM program, Mackenzie will be a registered nurse. She hopes to someday perform medical services around the...